Blog Post

How can you manage subcontractors with digital technology?

22.11.2023 | 7 min read | Written by George Barnes

Ever felt like you’re out of the loop trying to manage subcontractors with just spreadsheets and sticky notes? 

Keeping track of all the different subcontractor teams, their tasks, and deadlines and ensuring they meet their contractual obligations is a real struggle – especially if you’re using traditional methods to manage them. 

Without a central system, critical updates might get lost in translation, and the project starts to fall behind schedule. Digital technology offers a lifeline by providing a single platform to streamline communication, track progress, and ensure all subcontractors are on the same page.  

This article explains why you need a centralised digital tool to manage all your subcontractors and save your valuable time and money.  


1. Why you need to shift to digital subcontractor management technology 

2. 5 ways digital technology helps you manage subcontractors 

3. Digital vs. conventional subcontractor management: A comparison 

4. Looking for a digital subcontractor management system? Choose PlanRadar  

Why you need to shift to digital subcontractor management technology 

Traditional subcontractor management methods are manual and time-consuming, and they lead to a number of challenges, including: 

  • Delays: When subcontractor management is manual, it is difficult to track progress and identify potential delays early on. This can lead to projects running over schedule and budget. 
  • Disputes: Without clear communication and documentation, it is easy for disputes to arise between contractors and subcontractors. These disputes can be costly and time-consuming to resolve. 
  • Miscommunications: When communication is not centralised and coordinated, ensuring that everyone is on the same page is difficult, potentially causing misunderstandings, errors, and rework.
  • Cost control: When subcontractor management is manual, it is difficult to track costs accurately, leading to budget overruns. 

Related reading: Find out how PlanRadar can transform your subcontractor management

5 ways digital technology helps you manage subcontractors 

Subcontractor management is a critical component of any construction project, regardless of its size or complexity. The success of a project hinges on the ability to manage and coordinate the work of subcontractors.  

Traditional subcontractor management methods have long been the norm, but digital technology is rapidly transforming the landscape. Here are some ways digital technology help you manage subcontractors more effectively  

Improve communication and collaboration 

Digital technology excels at breaking down communication barriers, offering a quantum leap over traditional methods. Instead of playing phone tag or sifting through a stack of emails, you can now have instant, real-time conversations with your subcontractors through dedicated project management software or apps.  

Imagine getting quick updates on an important change in project specs without waiting for a return call. You can also share documents, blueprints, and project notes seamlessly, fostering collaboration among subcontractors.  

In contrast, relying solely on phone calls or paper-based communication can lead to misunderstandings and frustrating delays.  

Track progress and productivity 

Keeping tabs on progress and productivity is crucial in managing subcontractors efficiently. Digital tools enable you to do just that with ease. You can track work hours, monitor task completion, and assess the overall project timeline in a centralised system.  

Digital technology is especially handy in construction projects. For example, a project manager can quickly check whether the electrical subcontractor has finished their work, allowing the plumbing subcontractor to proceed without any unnecessary downtime.  

With digital tools, you can:  

  • Accurately track subcontractor hours worked, materials used, and equipment usage 
  • Quickly assess task completion, minimising downtime. 
  • Reduce the likelihood of errors and inefficiencies compared to manual methods. 

Manage finances 

Traditional methods of managing subcontractor finances, such as paper checks and invoices, are inefficient and time-consuming. Digital tools such as online invoicing and payment processing software, on the other hand, can streamline your financial management process. 

Here’s how you can manage payments through digital technology:  

  • Automated payments: Digital tools automate the process of sending and receiving payments to subcontractors and save you time and effort. 
  • Reduced errors: You reduce the risk of errors in subcontractor payments. For example, online invoicing software automatically calculates and populates invoices, reducing the risk of human errors. 
  • Improved visibility: Digital tools provide you with real-time visibility into subcontractor payments. This allows them to identify any potential problems early on and take corrective action. 

Report progress in real-time 

Clients and stakeholders often want to be updated on the progress of a project in real-time. This is challenging for contractors, especially if they are managing multiple subcontractors. 

Digital project management software can help you track the progress of all tasks on a project and generate reports on project progress. With regular tracking, you can report the progress to your clients in real time.  

For example, you can use digital project management software to generate a report on the progress of all tasks assigned to a particular subcontractor. This report can be shared with the client or stakeholders to keep them updated on the progress of the project. 

Streamline documentation 

One of the biggest challenges for subcontractors is managing documentation. They need to provide various documents, such as contracts, drawings, permits, and specifications, and everything becomes difficult to track and manage, especially when it is paper based. 

Here’s how digital technology helps you streamline documentation:  

  • Cloud storage: Traditional filing systems can be a nightmare to manage. Digital tools provide cloud storage for all important documents, plans, and contracts. These documents are securely stored and easily accessible from any device with an internet connection. 
  • Searchability: Digital documents are easily searchable. You can find documents with keywords or phrases, reducing the time spent searching through physical files and cabinets. 

You might also be interested in: The true cost of poor communication with subcontractors

Digital vs. conventional subcontractor management: A comparison 

The table below compares how digital technology excels at managing different aspects of construction projects and why subcontractor management needs to go digital.  

Task/Aspect Digital subcontractor management Traditional management (without technology) 
Communication Real-time collaboration through project management software, instant messaging apps. Reliance on phone calls, emails, and physical meetings, leading to delayed communication and misunderstandings. 
Task assignment Efficient assignment and tracking of tasks using project management tools.  Manual task assignment through meetings or paper-based systems, which can result in lost or overlooked tasks. 
Progress tracking GPS tracking and digital tools for real-time location monitoring and task progress (e.g., GPS-enabled apps). Manual recording of subcontractor activities, potentially leading to inaccuracies and inefficiencies. 
Financial management Budget tracking and expense monitoring using digital platforms (e.g., QuickBooks, FreshBooks). Paper-based expense tracking and manual budget calculations, which can be error-prone and time-consuming. 
Documentation Cloud storage for documents and digital filing systems for easy access and searchability. Paper-based document management, often resulting in time wasted searching for physical files and higher risk of loss or damage. 
Reporting Real-time progress reporting with visual aids and automated reports. Manual report generation, which can be time-consuming and may lack visual aids for clearer presentation. 
Project collaboration Shared digital platforms for all stakeholders, allowing collaboration, document sharing, and real-time updates. Limited collaboration, often relying on physical meetings and documents exchanged via traditional mail or fax. 
Quality control Digital tools for documenting work quality through photos and comments, ensuring accountability. Manual quality control checks and paper-based documentation, which are prone to human error. 
Time efficiency Streamlined processes, real-time communication, and automatic tracking result in reduced project delays. Delays due to the time-consuming nature of manual processes and inefficient communication. 

Looking for a digital subcontractor management system? Choose PlanRadar  

PlanRadar stands out as an all-in-one solution for efficient subcontractor management in the construction industry.  

With real-time communication, task assignment, progress tracking, documentation storage, and reporting, it simplifies the complex process of coordinating subcontractors.  You can create custom forms to tackle invoicing and other financial matters.  

It’s the digital tool that eliminates headaches and empowers you to stay in control. Try PlanRadar for free today and experience the future of subcontractor management with ease. 

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1. Create an account

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